Ian Gee, a Director and Trustee of the Lakes Flying Company, gave an absorbing and fascinating Talk to a large audience about “Aviation on Windermere 1909-1919”, describing how Edward Wakefield pioneered flight from water on Windermere.
Wakefield built hangars at Bowness and used boat engineers from Barrow to adapt an Avro plane as a seaplane. Despite widespread ridicule “Waterbird” made the first successful flight from water 25th November 1911 from the Lake. The pilot sat at the front with the engine and propellers at the rear. The float was stepped, (a crucial adaptation) and the outriggers made from bamboo.
Wakefield recognised early on the military advantages of seaplanes for scouting purposes as land- based aircraft at the time did not have the range to reach enemy lines. During World War I Windermere was an important centre for training Naval Pilots and the first seaplanes were used 25th December 1914 against Zeppelin bases in Germany.
A replica of the “Waterbird” is currently being built and approaching “air worthiness”.
A Soldier of the Great War
The May meeting, delayed by one week because of the General Election, welcomed back Howard Martin to give a second lecture on the Great War. His subject this time was the story of Geoffrey Hardy, a soldier whose name is on the Cartmel War Memorial. Geoffrey, a Quaker, was born in Banbury and he married into a local Quaker family thus giving him a connection to Cartmel. He married Mabel Isaac, the grand-daughter of W R Nash of Pit Farm, Cartmel and The Mount, Cark on 5 March 1916 whilst on 44 hours’ leave. Howard’s research uncovered information about Geoffrey’s early life and his military career. He joined the West Yorkshire Field Artillery (Howitzer) Brigade and was involved in the battle for Bullecourt between April and May 1917. Many of his letters home were quoted. He survived the battles but died from wounds inflicted when ammunition exploded in a fire involving a howitzer. He died on 27 May 1917 aged 27.
The packed May meeting was addressed by local Great War expert Howard Martin who told us about the Cartmel Valley men who died during the conflict, including a couple who died in accidents before they left this country and the only naval death which occurred off the coast of Chile when a ship was sunk. The talk, well illustrated with pictures of the soldiers, their residences and their graves or memorials also covered the battles and places where they had died. The dead included boys and men from all parts of the community. Howard shared his knowledge of some of the families involved, having spoken to relatives and people who knew them. He has visited the battlefields and showed us some souvenirs he has collected. His passion for the subject was evident. The talk finished with information and pictures of different types of memorials in the district.